“Austen” Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

30 Sep
Cuke sandwiches

I have not been able to get these sandwiches out of my head!  Rebecca from our Austen in Boston book club makes some awesome sandwiches, but these are my favorite, hands down.  Rebecca calls them “Austen in Boston” English Cucumber Tea Sandwiches.  We enjoyed them at our last picnic, and they are so good with a cup of tea — with cream and sugar, of course.

Cucumber sandwiches

Cucumber sandwiches are simple, but these get some complexity from herbs and good-quality bread.  Rebecca uses Ezekiel Bran for Life bread, but my store didn’t have any so I went with Nature’s Pride Nutty Oat (strangely, the packaging says it has a nutty flavor but no nuts, and it’s 100% natural).  Even Joe loved the nutty oat, and he isn’t always keen on the 12-grain-type breads I bring home.  Plus I think ordinary white bread is too bland for something as mild as cucumber.

Slicing cucumber
Using a mandoline gives you uniform slices
Cucumber ribbons
The slices are paper-thin

Rebecca also uses organic cream cheese, nothing artificial.  I went with neufchatel cheese, which tastes just like cream cheese but has a third less fat.  Philadelphia makes one.  I went with the English seedless cucumber she recommended — it has less water and seeds than regular cucumber — as well as the dill.  Rebecca recommends dried chives as an alternative and says they’re better than fresh.  I used both dill and fresh chives, since I have chives growing in my garden and personally love them fresh.

Bread slices
Slathering cream cheese on half of the bread
Layering cucumber
Slightly overlap layers of cucumber, then repeat once

These few ingredients make up a sandwich both delicate for tea and snacking, but hearty enough to fill you up, to my surprise.  Now, I once made cucumber sandwiches on this blog way back when, but in retrospect I didn’t have a great formula.  You need the right ratio of cucumber slices to cream cheese to bread, and this recipe has it.  I foresee many chilly afternoons with these babies and a hot pot of tea.

Sandwich profile
This post also appears at What About Second Breakfast?


“Austen in Boston” English Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
By Rebecca of champagne.tumblr.com

Serves 2 to 3

  • 1 large English seedless cucumber
  • 10 slices bread, Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain or something similar and hearty, nothing hard or rustic
  • 4 oz. cream cheese (that’s half of a bar), softened at room temperature
  • 2 tbs whipped salted butter, softened at room temperature
  • Salt and pepper
  • One or more, optional:
    • 1 tbs fresh dill, chopped
    • 1 tsp chives (dried or fresh), chopped
    • 1 tsp fresh mint, chopped

Peel the cucumber.  You’ll only need about half unless you’re doubling the recipe.  Using a vegetable peeler, slice off thin sheets of cucumber.  Alternatively, I used a mandoline.  Lay the cucumber slices on paper towels to drain the excess liquid, for 5-10 minutes.

Lightly butter half of your bread slices.  Spread about a tablespoon of the cream cheese on each of the remaining slices.  Layer the cucumber, overlapping the slices a little, on the bread slices spread with cream cheese.  I find that layering the cucumber slices and then repeating once produces the right ratio of cucumber.  Grind some black pepper and sea salt on the cucumber, then sprinkle with the herbs.  Top the sandwiches with the buttered bread slices, and let them sit for a minute.

Place your hand firmly yet gently on each sandwich, then use a serrated knife to cut the crusts off carefully.  Slice each sandwich into 3 rectangles.  Present them on a fancy schmancy plate if you’re doing afternoon tea with friends.  If you make them in advance, cover the sandwiches with a damp paper towel and store in an airtight container.

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